There you are just minding your own business eating ice cream or enjoying a cup of coffee when, all of a sudden, you feel quite a bit of sensitivity to the cold or hot substance in one of your teeth. It’s an alarming sensation if you aren’t expecting it, and it very well may mean that you’re in need of a dental filling. Or, it might mean something else.
In today’s blog from the family dentistry and dental implant team at Love To Smile in Overland Park, we will take you on a step by step tour explaining what a dental filling is, why they are needed, and signs to look for that might be indicative of a cavity or other condition that requires a visit to your family dentist. We’ll even walk you through what to expect from a dental filling procedure in case you have been lucky (and/or diligent) enough to avoid them up until this point.
If you are in need of a dental cleaning, concerned that you may have a cavity, or require some other help from our team of local, friendly dentists, then don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment at the Love To Smile dentistry office nearest to you today.
What Is A Dental Filling?
A dental filling gets its name from the most common form of treatment for cavities. A small amount of malleable, but durable material is inserted into the hole in your tooth, thereby filling it, and in most cases, saving the tooth from the extraction or further damage and deterioration.
Best of all, a filling will protect your tooth from the discomfort of an exposed cavity and the risks of bacterial infection that come with it — all of which can be downright painful!
Dental fillings can be made from numerous types of materials including resin, porcelain silver, and gold, to name a few. Which of these materials you and your dentist choose to use should be based on how badly damaged the tooth is, what your budget is, and any allergies that you may have to resins or metals.
When Is A Dental Filling Needed?
There are a number of different situations that can require a dental filling, however, most are due to the development of a cavity, whether from wear and tear, a lack of effective dental care practices, or from damage to the tooth from trauma.
In some cases, dental fillings are required to replace older fillings that have worn down, become damaged, or even fallen out over time.
In that case that a cavity has developed, it’s important that you reach out to your dentist and schedule an appointment to have it inspected fairly quickly. While most cavities don’t require same-day treatment, especially when caught early, if they are left alone for too long, they can easily become infected as bacteria settles into the cavity and grows.
When this takes place, a dental filling will no longer suffice as a solution, and chances are good that you will need a root canal to clean and plug the hole instead. Because of this, we always recommend scheduling an appointment with your dentist as soon as you discover that you have a cavity.
What Are The Signs That I Might Have A Cavity?
Typically, there are five common signs that might indicate that you have a cavity. If you experience any of these, make sure to get in touch with your dentist quickly.
Sensitivity to hot and cold foods and beverages is one of the most common signs of a cavity, and that’s exactly why it is the example we gave to open this blog. As enamel wears away from your tooth, the dentin below it becomes exposed.
As dentin wears down, tiny pathways to the soft cells and nerves in your teeth can become exposed and aggravated by hot and cold food and drink.
Sensitivity To Sweets
Another type of sensitivity to be aware of is a lingering sensitivity of a tooth after you have consumed sweets like candy, cookies, or soda. If you are noticing that aggravation is taking place after you have had sweet foods or beverages, it might be a sign that you have worn enamel and dentin that might require a filling to address before becoming a larger cavity.
An Aching Tooth
When you are experiencing pain of any kind in a tooth, it’s not a good sign. This pain may come from sweets or temperature extremes, but it can also just exist as an aching tooth or be felt when biting down on anything — sweet, hot, cold, or not.
An aching tooth is a likely sign of a cavity and likely warrants a dental filling or other dental procedure.
Staining On Your Tooth
Stains on your teeth, whether white, yellowish, or darker shades of color can be indicative of tooth decay, one of the leading causes of cavities. However, staining can also come from food, beverage, and other substances that end up on or around your teeth. Always pay attention to any staining that you notice as well as any staining that seems to be getting worse.
A Noticeable Hole In Your Tooth
While this one might seem pretty obvious, a hole in your tooth isn’t always easy to see, even if you think you might be able to feel it. Never hesitate to ask a family member, spouse, or friend to help take a look if you have concerns about a visible or noticeably odd feeling on any of your teeth. If there is any kind of associated pain, or even a hint of a doubt as to what it is, make sure to give your dentist a call right away to get scheduled for a check-up.
What Should I Expect From My Office Visit To The Dentist?
If you do have a filling, don’t stress about it too much. The important thing is that you caught it and have an appointment scheduled to address the problem. Cavity treatment and dental fillings are routine procedures, relatively fast, and virtually painless in most situations.
The dentist will start by desensitizing your mouth with a numbing gel local anesthetic at the site of the cavity.
Next, they will prepare the tooth for cleaning, which may require a small rubber dam for ease of access and cleanup.
Cleaning the tooth requires removing the decayed area, checking for infection, and then cleaning the area around in and around the cavity to help the filling set.
Finally, it’s time for your actual dental filling. In just a few minutes, the dentist will fill the cavity with the agreed-upon material and quickly file down the filling to help it feel smooth and comfortable.
Your mouth will remain numb for a while after the procedure, so be cautious about chewing and eating hot foods as you can damage the new filling or burn yourself while unable to really feel the area around it.
Schedule An Appointment With Love To Smile Today
If you suspect that you might have a cavity, or you simply know that you are overdue for your 6-month dental cleaning, it’s time to reach out to the Love To Smile Family Dentistry office near you to make an appointment. We will gladly get you scheduled and answer all of your questions thoroughly. Give us a call today.